Proclaiming “once a mayor, always a mayor,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) returned Saturday to his former city of Baltimore, where he welcomed an annual gathering of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“I am very envious of the jobs you have and the jobs you do,” O’Malley told the meeting of about 200 mayors from across the country, calling them “the most important officeholders in America.”

In his remarks, O’Malley, who spent seven years as mayor of Baltimore before winning election as governor in 2006, shared one difference between the jobs.

“When you’re mayor, you spend a lot of time very patiently listening to very poor people ask you for life-and-death important things for which they’re willing to work,” O’Malley said. “When you’re governor, you spend an inordinate amount of time listening to really, really rich people asking for really, really unreasonable things for which they’re not even willing to pay.”

The remark drew a good deal of nervous laughter and applause, to which O’Malley said: “I don’t care. I’m not running for reelection. I’m term-limited.”

The four-day gathering, anchored at the downtown Hilton, is providing a showcase for the host city and its current mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is on the ballot this year.

Besides policy sessions, the conference agenda also includes several events at the city’s tourist destinations.

Friday night events were held at the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park on the waterfront and in the Little Italy section of town. On Saturday night, the mayors are being treated to a crab feast on the grounds of Fort McHenry.

In his remarks Saturday morning, O’Malley also offered profuse praise for Rawlings-Blake, calling her the Cal Ripkin of mayors, a reference to the former Baltimore Orioles star.

Other speakers addressing the Saturday morning session included Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D).

Video of the session is available here.